If you’re looking to car camp around the Pacific Northwest, there are a number of beautiful places to park your car and have amenities like a bathroom or even better – fewer people.
Leave No Trace Principles for car camping at a campground or dispersed camping should be utilized. Keep in mind that land can close due to wildfires, seasonal closures, or land management. Calling the local ranger station is a great way to ensure that you feel confident before showing up.
Hipcamp is a great resource for finding amazing places to car camp that are more likely to be secluded than a campground. Plus, if you get anxious about finding dispersed camping on a weekend, this ensures you know that you won’t spend the night trying to find a place to camp!
Let’s get into 4 places that I love to car camp in the Pacific Northwest:
- Willamette National Forest: Just outside of Eugene, Oregon wilderness area and is quite expansive with a number of car camping locations to choose from. From Blue Pool Campground right off HWY 126 to dispersed camping up forest roads – the forest is your oyster out here. Plus, there are a number of hiking destinations to visit in this area.
- Paulina Lake: Want to camp in Oregon’s most active volcanic area with a hot spring? This is the campground for you! Covered in feet of snow in the wintertime makes summer/fall out at the caldera that much more enjoyable. Walk the shoreline and access a hot spring that butts up to the lake bed-bubbling hot water from the ground up! Hike Paulina Peak while you’re there for a stunning view of Bend and beyond!
- Cle Elum in Washington is one of my favorite areas to dispersed camp if you have a 4 X 4 vehicle, the logging roads will take you up high to overlook Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mount Rainier, and beyond. Google Maps is your friend here on finding a road to follow up – that’s part of the adventure though, sometimes you never know where these roads will take you.
- Longmire Meadow in Washington is a developed dispersed camping area that is popular for OHV (off-highway vehicles). It’s small, so keep that in mind if you’re going on a weekend. If you are lucky enough to enjoy it though, this is a great base camp for Mount Rainier National Park.
- The Olympic Peninsula almost feels like another state when you’re out there. This is my favorite place to book Hipcamps for dispersed camping. There are a number of places to camp out here that are on private land within the National Park boundary, making it extra special.
As always, be a good steward of the land when recreating. Please also Leave No Trace, and leave the land better than you found it! Over the years in the Pacific Northwest land has been shut down due to massive littering and human waste. Dispersed camping is truly a special thing to enjoy, so be sure to remember that for future generations. Happy Camping!